Food For Dreams: Reclaimed Terracotta Pots

An assortment of recycled plant pots

If you live in one of the places where trees and most plants are shutting up shop for the winter, and your gardening thoughts have turned to plant catalogues, here’s food for dreams.

An interior designer might see these reclaimed pots from Yew Tree Barn as the perfect accessories for a cottage-style home, but when a gardener looks at them, they see a range of plant possibilities. It all depends on your personal plant fascinations: you might plant fancy auriculas or culinary herbs in the medium sized pots and mother-in-laws-tongue, Christmas cactus or cyclamen in the larger ones.

Those tiny clay pots with saucers intrigue me. Too small for most plants, they would dry out so quickly to need assiduous watering for anything other than miniature succulents. I’m not sure I’d want to trust seedlings to them, but wouldn’t they look cute with green, variegated and silver thyme spilling out, artfully staged for one of those impractical but bewitching Instagram shots? 

Some girls dream of working on the space exploration programme. I did my fair share of that, but the earliest waking dreams I remember were incoherent thoughts about having a flower garden. I spent quite some time carefully cutting up my Dad’s old plant catalogues, then putting pictures of my favourite flowers reverently into envelopes.

I wish I’d had this picture to feed my dreams back then, although truthfully, pots probably wouldn’t have done a lot for me. Especially not manky old used ones like these.

My grown up imagination considers the practicalities more. And, need I add, down the years the paintbrush-like touches of patina on terracotta have gathered respectability, till this sign of age has become, if not desirable exactly (it forms too quickly in real life for that), something to respect. These pots have the ghosts of plants around them.

Geranium with pink edged white flowers

Tapping in to my solitary flower games of old, I can transport the larger, deeper pots in my imagination to any kitchen window sill and fill them with… pelargoniums, shall we say? A leafy one with scented foliage and insect-like flowers; an ivy leaf; at least one rosebud type, such as ‘Appleblossom Rosebud’ (above); a ‘Fringed Arnside’ Regal type; and a classic, pure white one would make a nice collection.

I love the fact that your imaginary collection would be different. Just having a selection of these pots stacked up somewhere would be deeply reassuring for those who garden in a particular way. I’ll leave you with this set of square ones:

Square terracotta plant pots of various sizes

If you’ve read this far, you might be the type of person who can recognise how these can be objects of desire. I didn’t buy them. They weren’t going cheap, and I was in practical mode, on a quest for reclaimed ironwork for my sweetheart’s latest old window. But I wanted them. Not because I could imagine the plants I could grow in them, but because I could not. Their shape was unusual. They seemed to be craftsman-made. They were nice in themselves – the perfect terracotta plant pots for a shelf in a potting shed, you might say. A luxury.

If we pass by there again, I’m planning to visit them. And if they’re still on the shelf, who knows if I will be so strong willed to resist them a second time?

39 Replies to “Food For Dreams: Reclaimed Terracotta Pots”

  1. I love those square pots! No worries of them tipping over and they’d be great for succulents. If they were deeper, they would work for a lot of plants. Too cool!

  2. I’m with heyjude on the matter of weight, and it disappoints me because the terra cotta pots are by far my favorites. I’m so glad I’ve not seen the square ones before: I’d be bankrupt! I hope you are not so restrained next time you see them so you can plant in them and then post photos of the results. This was a lovely idea for a post! Thanks!

    1. I prefer the terracotta too, although agree they can be a challenge to move. I planted my ‘Phyllis Bide’ in a large one. The pot has a saucer that tends to fill with water when it rains a lot, then has a surface closer to slime than patina. I’d like to remove the saucer, but there’s no way I can juggle a thorny rambling rose twined around a trellis, the pot and the saucer without something breaking (probably me). It’s a pity it’s easier to dream plants into pots, than to dream saucers out from under pots!

    1. ‘Shoulder-less’ is the word I was looking for. I’m sorry they are hard to find in the US. They do have more of a classic look. Mind you, with all the lovely vases you have, you might not have room for a pot collection too! 🙂

  3. I too love terracotta pots, I once went to a car boot sale and bought quite a lot of old pots, just because I couldn’t resist, they just looked lovely to me. I never did use the very small ones I bought, but they always looked so nice in my greenhouse 🙂

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